The Dodgers left their spring training home in Glendale, Arizona on Wednesday to play a game in Las Vegas. On Thursday night, they came back home to Los Angeles to play an exhibition game against Cleveland. And both the Dodgers and this fan still do not seem ready for the regular season to start on Monday.
Only 25,313 people showed up at Dodger Stadium on a chilly April 1 evening for the game. It was not televised nor was it even available to watch online. And that may have been for the best. It was not an artistic success.
The Dodgers had a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning when reliever George Sherrill gave up two runs, one of which scored on a passed ball by backup catcher Brad Ausmus that allowed a Cleveland runner to scored from second base.
In the eighth inning, Cleveland score three runs on an inning that started with a strikeout, but then third baseman Ronnie Belliard made a throwing error, first baseman James Loney misplayed a grounder (which was scored a hit), second baseman Blake DeWitt threw away a relay on a potential double play, then a walk, and two more singles and Cleveland had a 6-3 lead.
Sitting at the game, I was having trouble getting myself back in the swing of things for watching a game. I bring a scorebook to just about every game I attend. (Don't ask why. You either are one of those people who keep score or you aren't. It's just something people do and other people wonder why you care.) In two innings, I wrote the Cleveland batters actions on the wrong page. I kept making mistakes on figuring out if the runs the Dodgers pitchers gave up were earned or unearned. I did not feel like I was in midseason fan shape.
Dodger Stadium is not quite ready for the regular season. The usual large size posters of the players were not on display on the outside of the stadium. The outfield wall did not have all of its advertising signs displayed. The faint outline of "MANNYWOOD" remained on the short fence in left field.
When you enter Dodger Stadium, you hear recordings by Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin reminding fans of the rules about behavior in the stadium. These may not have been updated for this season as Scully still welcomes fans on behalf of "the McCourt family."
I did not see any McCourt in the stands on Thursday night. Jamie McCourt's Dodgers WIN (Women's Initiative Network) is no more. The Dodgers debuted its replacement "Women in Blue." (You have to register to find out what it is. It is most likely promotional material targeted for female fans.)
Overall, there did not seem to be any radical changes to Dodger Stadium this past offseason. A few food vendors changed, but the basics are still there. It still costs $15 to park, although shuttle service from Union Station resumed. (I drove to the game, so I can't say how that went.) The Dodgers still make you listen to "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch. And the egregiously awful Journey song "Don't Stop Believing'" made a return in the eighth inning, although in a more subdued form.
The Dodgers go to Anaheim Friday night to play the Angels and then the two teams come back to L.A. on Saturday to end the exhibition season. The Dodgers open the regular season on Monday in Pittsburgh (good weather and a high of 68 in the forecast on Monday in Western PA.) The Angels open at home on Monday against Minnesota.
I bought tickets for my first regular season game. That will be on May 1. By then, I hope to be up to speed. And I hope that the follies of Wednesday night will just be something to chalk up to the players not being completely ready. But by Monday, there will be no excuses. Everything will count. And this fan better be ready to count everything correctly.